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Cabell County sees big demand for needle exchange

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — After just the third needle exchange clinic at the Cabell-Huntington Health Department, it’s time to expand its hours, said physician director Dr. Michael Kilkenny.

“We’ve really reached our capacity for the hours that we’ve scheduled already,” Kilkenny said. “We had our third session (Sept. 16), and we had 42 clients, which is quite a lot for a two-hour scheduled session. We needed three hours to do that, but they are worth all the time we can give them to educate and counsel them the best we can.”

Kilkenny said the amount of intravenous addicts seeking clean needles doubled from the second to the third week.

The program was established as a partnership among several local agencies, including the Huntington Mayor’s Office of Drug Control Policy, as a way to stop the spread of blood-borne illnesses like Hepatitis B and C and HIV as heroin use in the area has grown significantly. West Virginia typically places at the top of the country in Hepatitis B and C rates.
“At the first session, it was a very quiet place,” Kilkenny said. “People were quite concerned. They didn’t know the new program, and it took a great deal of courage to even come here. They were really afraid they were going to get arrested when they came here. Obviously, we’ve built some trust in a very short time…

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